“The Nationalist people have moved on…”

Interesting snippet from last week’s Prime Time results programme last Thursday: particularly Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s remarks on the SDLP’s campaign. He noted that Mark Durkan had fought a tenacious campaign in Derry and South Belfast and was justly rewarded, but that in regard to the SDLP’s past role, ‘people do not remember the bread they have eaten’. He also posed the question of whether they can ever really fight back at Sinn Fein, if they only organise in Northern ireland and not throughout the island.

  • Homer

    Mairtin O’Muilleoir and his opinion on all Ireland parties.This comment shows how far off the pace of life in the south,and the north this commentator is.Take the south first. Sein Fein is no more than a fringe party,a sort of novelty act in the new vastly wealthy multicutural new Ireland of today.They are liable to get their ass kicked by the Greens in this election coming up in May.

    Why ? Because the Greens shade of green is of far greater importance and has far greater impact on the ordinary every day lives of the people in the south. Their environment is top of the agenda in every newspaper in the land and every television channel and will be for the very long term future. Why? Because global warming is a much more up to date topic than overheated politicians from Ulster.

    Ulster has had it’s day in the headlines and as the Shinners constantly say “Time to move on”. The only thing that counts on an all Ireland basis is the effect of environmental polution. Ulsters poluted politics is of no real concern to the southern voter.

    With regard to his remarks about the SDLP fighting on an all island basis. If this had been such a great idea John Hume would have picked up on it years ago and the SDLP would have been an all Ireland party then. The fact is the south is an already overcrowed political arena where the local politicians will gut each other for their seats. So therefore to waste the vast amount of money that it would take to fight and election in the Republic of Ireland would be pure folly when the money could be better spent in the north fighting for peace.

    Furthermore, if the Shinners by some science fiction where to get a seat at the cabinet table in Dublin the northern executive would colapse over night because the Shinners would be on an all Ireland hobby horse which would serve to freak out the Paisleyites. For that reason alone it will never happen in our lifetime. Even if the IRA were stood down at a march past on O’Connell Street. In fact this scenario would be a de facto all Ireland government and that is the reason Fiana Fail, for example, would never contest northern elections.

    Let Mr O Muilleoir put his science fiction dreams for the future to bed or better still put them in the same skip that he threw all the back copies of Daily Ireland into. The fate of that newspaper proves my point.

  • slug

    I agree with some of Homers points but I don’t think it would freak the unionists if SF got a ministry in Dublin.

    My own view is that the world would not cave in and it would in fact place constraints on SF, constraints which could change the way SF is percieved and which could in fact work to unionist advantage.

  • JohnT

    I suppose the unionist reation would depend on SF’s price for going in to government. God knows what FF would agree to if it was necessary to keep them in power.

  • lorraine

    paranoia about the sinn fein rise to power never ceases to amaze me. the shinners have put the work in and the results they are achieving demonstrate that. the southern establishment needs a good shake-up, back-hander politics accompanied by off-shore bank accounts have done nothing to ameliorate the poverty of those whom the celtic tiger passed by. there are new kids in town and they just might have a positive impact upon standards of living in deprived communities; they can certainly do no worse than what has passed for politics up to this point.

  • Homer

    Pray tell how would this comfort Unionists ? I await you reply with great interest. In view of the fact the headbangers of Paislyism have risen to the top in the North with one word “No” and the other word “Never”. Which if taken out of Websters Dictionary would leave them speechless.

  • Homer

    Lorraine. Take a good look at Gerrys patch in West Belfast and tell me what he has done for the poor, the working class and the unemployed of that area over the past twenty five years. The place, in an hours inspection, shows itself to be a wasteland. Where anybody with a chance to get out has moved on to a better life elsewhere. To my mind a vote for SF in that area is a vote of despair.

  • slug

    Homer

    I am a unionist although I don’t claim to speak for unionists. Clearly unionists are certainly not keen on the idea, but I suspect those fears could soon go away, and indeed disappear, once you see the constraints on Sinn Féin when they achieve office.

    In that sense, it may actually be a good thing.

  • kensei

    “Lorraine. Take a good look at Gerrys patch in West Belfast and tell me what he has done for the poor, the working class and the unemployed of that area over the past twenty five years.”

    Tell me, for how long out of that period has he been in government?

  • slug

    Also unionists don’t particularly appreciate being told by southern parties that they have to share power with Sinn Féin but that Sinn Féin are not fit for office in the south. If they are fit for office in NI then so too in the south. I think they have changed a lot. Although I dislike their style I think that once in office they will have constraints on them, and once that day happens and we see the world has not collapsed, then we will have one less thing to worry about.

    I sympathise with a lot of what you’re saying but just disagree on this point.

  • Dec

    Gerrys patch in West Belfast…The place, in an hours inspection, shows itself to be a wasteland. Where anybody with a chance to get out has moved on to a better life elsewhere.

    Homer

    Anyone with even a casual knowledge of West Belfast (specifically ‘Gerry’s patch’) would recognise that analysis as nonsense.

  • Crataegus

    Homer

    They (SF) are liable to get their ass kicked by the Greens in this election coming up in May.

    It will be interesting to see how contests like Dublin Central and Louth turn out.

    Both SF and Greens will have a devil of a job increasing their representation substantially, but of the two I would agree the Greens seem better placed at this point in time and are much more likely to be part of the next government than SF.

    If there is a need for a coalition SF’s role will more likely be as a pawn in the negotiations with other parties, “look here if you don’t agree on our terms we are also in negotiations with SF.”

  • Ned

    Lorraine,

    No harm to you but as a resident of West Belfast – who would take more time and less prejudice about the area I say you are talking total dung.

    Take a look at the Shankill if you want to see the the absolute failure of unionist leadership; take a look at the Northern Heroin capital – the DUP heartland of Ballymena. Then take a look at Limerick, parts of Dublin, parts of Cork – never mind. If you want to be ignorant and narrow minded that is your problem.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Then take a look at Limerick, parts of Dublin, parts of Cork’

    Ahem, Ned, possibly falling foul of your own complaint there.

    I’m assuming you meant to say ‘Parts’ of Limerick. Limerick as a whole as the highest net disposable income in the whole of the Republic outside of Dublin.

    Small point – now move on! 🙂

  • slug

    Ned

    “take a look at the Northern Heroin capital – the DUP heartland of Ballymena.”

    I live in Ballymena. It’s a prosperous town with (in the north) a religiously mixed poulation and a strong manufacturing base: Michelin (have recently said its one of their best plants, and invested there again recently), Wrightbus ( bus manufacturer exports across the world), and Gallaher to name a few. There are many other employers too. The town centre has expanded greatly in terms of retail spending. The unemployment level is not high.

    Yes there is a heroin problem and socal problems (the two are related) including sectarianism but its not correct to say its got a depressed economy in general. As someone who spends a lot of time there it does not strike me as a failing town.

    I’m not sure that the politicians have served it well but Ballymena does well because of Ballymena people not politicians.

  • Greenflag

    Crataegus,

    ‘If there is a need for a coalition SF’s role will more likely be as a pawn in the negotiations with other parties, “look here if you don’t agree on our terms we are also in negotiations with SF.’

    Spot on Crataegus, but not likely in the upcoming election . I believe FF and the PD’s will be returned without the need for ‘others’ this time out. The Greens /SF/Labour together could get about 30% of the first preference vote which would place them left of centre in ROI politics . Now where can they get that extra 15% to provide an alternative Government ? From the PD’s ? From disaffected FF voters ? They stand a better chance of finding an iceberg in the Sahara . From FG ? Perhaps . But most FG voters and supporters are closer to the PD’s than to either of the 3 minor parties . FG have traditionally provided the possibility of an alternative Government to FF but in these changing times particularly with the fracturing of the vote to smaller parties FG’s diminished vote is failing to return enough TD’s to provide an alternative Government . People have accepted FG/Labour Coalitions despite their inherent perceived instability just as people accept FF/PD . Not sure whether we are ready to embrace four party voluntary ‘Coalitions’ just yet .

    The Irish Labour Party have long since given up the prospect of ever getting more than 20% of the vote . SF and the PD’s are even more limited . The Green’s are as yet an ‘unknown’ in terms of their potential but it’s difficult to see them getting past 10% at max .

    There is room in ROI for a centre left alternative but the vote is so fractured among so many parties that we are unlikely to see a centre left Government at least not in this election.

    The future past this election looks like a centre right coalition versus a centre left coalition not too dissimilar from the UK and/or Germany/USA etc

  • Shore Road Resident

    Mairtin’s article makes no sense – he’s claiming that SF’s post-ceasefire success legitimises the Troubles. Surely it actually proves that the Troubles were completely pointless?

  • lorraine

    homer and ned
    social and economic watelands do indeed exist but they are not the creation of gerry adams, they are the creation of successive bad administrations (British) which care nothing for the plight of working class communities and indeed characterised some of those communities “terrorist” communities to justify the repression inflicted upon them. gerry and the shinners are new to the political equation; paisley and co though have been around from day one and their new found conversion to the plight of working class protestant communities is suspect, given that the decay and poverty bred during their watch and they done nothing, absolutely nothing, to address it

  • Shore Road Resident

    Lorraine’s posts make no sense either – she’s claiming that Gerry can’t be responsible for West Belfast because it’s ruled by the British but Big Ian can be responsible for Ballymena because he’s been around a long time. Newsflash love – Gerry and Ian have both been around for decades.

  • páid

    the only real question is who the SDLP will join up with.

    Fine Gael? Despite the name, more a tribe of the Norman than the Gael. Although Currie moved this way, they strike me as culturally better suited to alliance/moderate unionism.

    Labour? Again, culturally awkward. Once a plain man’s party, now controlled by 60s liberals out of touch with the plain people, and power.

    Fianna Fáil? Way to go, if the Shinners don’t beat them to it.

  • DK

    Homer: “Gerrys patch in West Belfast…The place, in an hours inspection, shows itself to be a wasteland. Where anybody with a chance to get out has moved on to a better life elsewhere.”

    This is a trend in Belfast in general – the flight to the suburbs. The falling population can be seen in the electoral numbers – Belfast’s 4 are among the lowest and should really be 3 constituencies. For example, West Belfast is being enlarged as a constituency due to falling populations.

  • URQUHART

    Shore Road: “Mairtin’s article makes no sense – he’s claiming that SF’s post-ceasefire success legitimises the Troubles. Surely it actually proves that the Troubles were completely pointless? ”

    I think it’s an example of plain old Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on behalf of the Provisional movement.

    When you’ve killed children as they have, you really want to believe it was all worthwhile. Expect a lot more of this stuff.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SRR: “Mairtin’s article makes no sense – he’s claiming that SF’s post-ceasefire success legitimises the Troubles. Surely it actually proves that the Troubles were completely pointless? ”

    Depends on your perspective, SRR — is the glass half full or half empty. Can a good case be made that the Troubles were the necessary “growing pains” of a more egalitarian Northern Ireland? Yes, it can. Can a good case be made that it was all a waste of time, treasure and blood? Yes it can. The trouble, however, is that a body’s position usual depends on whether or not their own personal interests were gored

  • slug

    “This is a trend in Belfast in general – the flight to the suburbs. The falling population can be seen in the electoral numbers – Belfast’s 4 are among the lowest and should really be 3 constituencies. For example, West Belfast is being enlarged as a constituency due to falling populations. ”

    There are reports now according to which there is great demand for city centre apartments in Belfast. You are right though that it is clear though from the data that places like deprived North and West Belfast are shedding people year on year at large rate.

    NI is becoming a lot more suburban. There has been a massive fall in the % of people in council housing and a lot more home-owners. I think this will/is feeding through into the politics.

  • kensei

    “There are reports now according to which there is great demand for city centre apartments in Belfast. You are right though that it is clear though from the data that places like deprived North and West Belfast are shedding people year on year at large rate.”

    Surely the problem in North and West Belfast is lack of suitable housing – hence the growth in say, South Antrim?

  • slug

    Kensei

    “Surely the problem in North and West Belfast is lack of suitable housing – hence the growth in say, South Antrim? ”

    If I recall correctly we actually see a fall in the population in these areas. So I think its not just the lack of housing.

  • JDoyle

    SDLP is too much of a mess in the 6 counties let alone organising nationally. Fine Gael are broadly similar to Alliance in their outlook.

    While Fianna Fail might be the partner of choice for most SDLP members – FF are too cute to enter the 6 county scene knowing they have little base to start from. They’re used to being the biggest party so I can’t see them entering a party system where they are a bit player.

    Labour like the SDLP is aging tired and out of touch. However they probably are the best all Ireland partner for the SDLP to merge with. This is not only because they are sister parties in the PES but the preceedent of the relative ease by which former DL members (Pat Rabbitte & Liz McManus) took over Labour shortly after their party merged with Labour. The SDLP would be swallowed up in Fianna Fail in Labour they would at least have an equal footing if not eventually guide the direction of the party.

    Indeed if the SDLP merged with and took over Irish Labour they would dilute Labour’s anti FF culture and make them Fianna Fail’s natural partner. In that regard the SDLP could steal the march on the Shinners by making themselves an accepatable all Ireland partner for Fianna Fail’s middle class voters.

    I doubt the SDLP even have the imagination for such a timid move. It is as likely as the UUP merging with the Tories

  • slug

    JDoyle

    There are currently plans in NI for a Labour movement that is tied both to Irish Labour and UK Labour. UK Labour recently agreed to set up organizational structures in NI and there is much talk among NI Labour members of cooperation with Irish Labour so as to create a non-designated Labour structure in NI that can have broad appeal not just to unionists or just to nationalists. The SDLP are unlikely to be involved in this. So after that the SDLP might seek to links to FF.

  • hotdogx

    I think the sdlp not being organised in the rest of ireland was a bad move for them. Only an all ireland party that is in touch with whats going on all over ireland can really be 100% for a united ireland. IM not a shinner but i have to say they do seem to have their strategy in order.
    This is why i believe fianna Fail will organise up north. They now in my opinion are the only possible answer to the sinn fein situation. Fianna fail in the north will give nationalists real access to the irish government and could possibly get more people on the nationalist band waggon when they start seeing that what happens in Dublin is more important and more of interest then what happens in the UK.

  • sms

    is it just possible that
    population movement is a phenomenon of urban living ? one area goes down and another goes up.In my opinion the most telling trends in population are the school enrolment figures which are falling right across the board not only in west and north Belfast. I’m no spring chicken and political constituency boundaries have been readjusted regularly throughout my lifetime

  • Dread Cthulhu

    sms: “is it just possible that
    population movement is a phenomenon of urban living ? one area goes down and another goes up.In my opinion the most telling trends in population are the school enrolment figures which are falling right across the board not only in west and north Belfast. I’m no spring chicken and political constituency boundaries have been readjusted regularly throughout my lifetime ”

    Actually, sms, it is. As populations shift, they cause other shifts in population. Economic and demographic changes combine to change the face of neighborhoods. What was once “Hell’s Kitchen” in NYC has been gentrified and is now called “the Flat-Iron District.” Areas get better, areas get worse and the populations shift and adjust, causing other changes, ad nauseum.

  • JDoyle

    Thanks Slug

    I suppose however the bi-national Labour grouping will only go electoral if the SDLP leave the PES (to join with FF for instance).

    Such a re-alignment is in Fianna Fail’s gift. FF like to describe themselves as “a broad church without any sects”. I can’t see an alliance with the SDLP – just FF moving in and much of the SDLP defecting to it. Fianna Failers are all agreed that they won’t take seats at Westminster while the Labour Party would (as they previously had in the 1940s & 50s). Fianna Fail don’t tolerate sub-cultures – the Labour Party repeatedly has.

    The question for FF is “what’s the percentage in it for them?”. As the assembly election shows SF are well organised in the North as FF has been in much of the rest of the island. It suited Fianna Fail to have the SDLP act on their behalf in the North and although the SDLP no longer serves that function, it is likely FF will coalesce with SF in the South rather than compete with them in the North. At that point FF might enter the fray in the North especially if SF is tied to them and past their zenith. Such a scenario is still quite a while away.

    That still leaves the SDLP fumbling around…

    I do agree with you that the SDLP are not interested in embracing the bi-national Labour idea. However if they did approach Irish Labour about a merger they would be as likely to take over the Irish Labour Party within a few years as Democratic Left did when they merged with Labour a number of years ago. Such an all Ireland Labour would be more pro Fianna Fail than the present Labour Party and they could slip in to being FFs all ireland partner rather than SF.

    Labour won’t go electoral as long as the SDLP is a sister party and I don’t see FF competing with SF in the North until SF are tied to FF in the South. The SDLP could take the initiative but I suspect they’ll sit like a bunny in the headlights of a car.

  • picador

    re: population shifts in north Belfast

    Nationalist districts of north Belfast are still densely populated. Conversely unionist districts have been in steep decline for a long time.

    Thats why Dodds & co. still need the (state-sponsored) bully boys to enforce residential segregation. Which is also why you’ll never hear the DUP call for loyalist decommissioning.

    Ironically paramilitary dominance makes life a misery for those unfortunate enough to live in these areas and ensures they remain semi-derelict.

    An on-going tragedy which will only be addressed when Dodds is removed as MP for the area (I live in hope).

    SF/SDLP must oppose his on-going attempts to mislead and manipulate the Boundary Commission and to bully the Housing Executive.

  • North Belfast abu

    There has been a steady increase in northerners joining FF; I am one of them. There will be no merge with SDLP, just a gradual filter of people joining from the SDLP and the SF (like myself). WEve a fledgling (yet unoffical) organisation in the 6, email ff32co@gmail.com if interested!!!

  • Wilde Rover

    “Also unionists don’t particularly appreciate being told by southern parties that they have to share power with Sinn Féin but that Sinn Féin are not fit for office in the south. If they are fit for office in NI then so too in the south.”

    The Dail is the parliament for a member state of the EU, whereas the Assembly is little more than local government on steroids.

    The southern electorate differentiates between the two because, to put it bluntly, the government in the RoI is a real government.

    And if the future First Minister, now with the additional role of Minister for Begging, manages (along with the rest of the Executive) to turn NI into a bigger public sector basket case than it already is then NI would have the quasi-economy to match its quasi-government.